Eliminate every program that doesn’t benefit me personally

I was just reading a thread on Metafilter about how the Republicans of Texas are proposing the defunding of Medicaid. It’s an insane idea, and one that I don’t suspect will go far at present (because of the impact it would have on surrounding states), but that’s not what I want to talk about in this post. I just mention it as a way of introducing the following, which is a comment left in the ensuing Metafilter thread by a guy calling himself Shabster. I think it pretty nicely summarizes the underlying motivations of the self-proclaimed Tea Party “patriots” among us.

I’m not from Texas, nor have I ever lived in Texas. I am from Washington State. We just overturned sales taxes on bottled water and candy, and voted down an income tax on people making more than 200K a year. Our (democrat) Governor is considering eliminating state Medicaid programs that support prescriptions, dental work, and hospice because our state does not have enough revenue to pay for required services such as public safety and education. So really, we’re not too far off of what’s happening in Texas – even though we still have democrats in charge of our state legislature.

Here is my completely personal and anecdotal perspective on what’s happening almost everywhere in our country. My parents are republicans. They vote against every tax – especially a state income tax. We have an almost 10% sales tax in Washington, which is mostly not deductible on federal taxes – but apparently there is some sort of principle attached to being opposed to an income tax. Whatever. They considered buying a second home in Arizona, and one of the big selling points was that there weren’t any school taxes/levies – hey, their kids are out of school! They really consider property taxes that go to schools as tuition for their own kids. And heck! They paid taxes when my brother and I went to school! Why should they pay for other peoples’ kids? They enjoy very generous federal retirement benefits because my dad worked for the navy. But screw those bus drivers and their demands to keep their benefits…which were negotiated and agreed upon. But whatever. Oh! And churches and charities and families should be the social support nets – not the government! But when my aunt needed $8k to re-vest in her state retirement plan, my mom dug in her heels and refused to help. She should have moved to a smaller place to save money! She should have kicked out her good-for-nothing adult son! She told me that it’s really not a big deal – it just meant $300 less per month for my aunt. Of course, it was the difference between $400 and $700. And my mom was an accountant. Apparently she couldn’t recognize that $300 was a HUGE deal in this situation.

So, basically, I’ve come to realize that my parents (and most other republicans) are really just selfish, scared children. Unless they directly benefit from something, they don’t want to contribute to it. They’re never going to need Medicaid! But they are sure happy to have Medicare! Apparently, they don’t see that they are both government-supported safety nets since they benefit from one, and (gasp) possibly help pay for the other. I think that the elimination of Medicaid, and the economic strangling of “Obamacare” is really going to happen.

Really, all of this awful, misogynistic crap just makes me want to move to somewhere sane.

And, while we’re on a somewhat related subject, I just wanted to add that, as much as I appreciated Jon Stewart’s rally in DC a few days ago, I think he missed the mark by laying the blame equally at the feet of all cable news outlets, as though the problem were evenly spread across the spectrum. I can see why he did it, as he didn’t want to alienate anyone on the right or the left, and instead draw attention to the volume of the rhetoric, but the truth is that we are dealing with selfish, scared children masquerading as sane adults, and the solution isn’t to talk to them as though their fears are valid… With all due respect to Mr. Stewart, reality isn’t up for debate.

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20 Comments

  1. suswhit
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    This post (especially combined with the plutocracy post) makes me feel despondent. Is the future truly hopeless?

  2. Posted November 9, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    It’s the boomers. They are a disgusting and spoiled lot, feeling no level of civic responsibility and will soon bankrupt every level of government to the point where schools will close, poor elderly will walk the streets like zombies and illiteracy will once again flourish in the US.

    Until they start dropping like flies, the future is completely hopeless. Of course, they won’t mind leaving us to clean up the mess.

  3. Edward
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    The answer would be, yes.

    Seriously, we still have an electoral system, and it could work, if we could just get the money out of the system. I don’t know if the Democratic party is necessarily the party to do it, though. I think there needs to be something like the Tea Party within the Democratic party. Unfortunately there isn’t a corporate interest to fund such a thing, like there is with the Tea Party movement. We also need to cultivate good leaders at the local level. There is hope. It’s just going to take a lot of work.

  4. Edward
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I’ll agree with Pete on that. It’s an unintended consequence of WWII. Men came back from war and they, understandably, treated their kids well. They gave them everything, and, thanks to the booming economy, they were able to. Unfortunately we got a generation of spoiled kids who felt entitled to everything. There are, of course, plenty of people who don’t fit that narrative. I’d argue, however, that they’re in the minority. That particular generation, generally speaking, has very little sense of community. (That fact that we’ve become so mobile as a people feeds into that considerably.)

  5. Tim
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    If there’s a splinter faction, Russ Feingold could play a role. He hinted last night that he might run against Obama in 2012.

    http://thatsmycongress.com/index.php/2010/11/09/russ-feingold-for-president-in-2012/

  6. TeacherPatti
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Gotta agree w/ Pete and Edward…the boomers done messed us up. For the first time, they are experiencing (through the loss of jobs and 401k value) what my generation (X) has experienced all along. My parents are boomers, and I love them, but they do not understand why my husband & I aren’t traveling the globe, buying a huge house, etc. Neither can understand why two DINKs with a good income (on paper) have less than they did with a kid (me!!!) and my mom not working. As Edward said, the mindset is somewhat understandable but that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

    This “I’ve got mine now you get yours” mindset has been around for a long time, probably since Reagan (if not before). Then, you also get the angry envious crowd who not only wants to keep what they got for themselves, but are bitter about those who have something a little better. Case in point, the anti-union folks. Yes, I know unions have their problems but the comments I see are “goddamned union motherfuckers demanding benefits and good wages and screwing things up” when what I’d rather see is “why don’t we all have unions to get us better wages and benefits?” and “what about the top 1% and CEOs…why are they making 400 times what we are? How about sharing some for the rest of us”.

    Don’t know how to get from these f’d up minsets though…don’t know if it’s possible at this point.

  7. Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    Yes, I definitely agree with what Peter wrote about the Boomers.

  8. Kim
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:53 am | Permalink

    Before they were called “boomers” they were referred to as the “me generation.” People don’t use it much anymore, but it fits.

  9. Andy C
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Way to jump on the dis the Rally bandwagon. Of course “cable news” is going after it, it was aimed at them. Never once did I hear that ALL cable news channels were equally bad. The Daily Show mostly goes after FOX because they “make shit up”. The other cable news networks don’t usually get busted for that but they do say a lot of dumb shit. So this “leave the left alone” bullshit because they’re on my side is crap.

  10. dragon
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    From Bill Maher

    When Jon announced his rally, he said that the national conversation is dominated by people on the right who believe Obama’s a socialist, and people on the left who believe 9/11 was an inside job. But I can’t name any Democratic leaders who think 9/11 was an inside job. But Republican leaders who think Obama’s a socialist? All of them! McCain, Boehner, Cantor, Palin, all of them! It’s now official Republican dogma, like tax cuts pay for themselves, and gay men just haven’t met the right woman.

    As another example of both sides using overheated rhetoric, Jon cited the right equating Obama with Hitler, and the left calling Bush a war criminal. Except thinking Obama is like Hitler is utterly unfounded, but thinking Bush is a war criminal? That’s the opinion of General Anthony Taguba, who headed the Army’s investigation into Abu Ghraib.

  11. John Galt
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    There is absolutely no difference between Fox News and NPR. They are equivalent in every single measurable way. Glenn Beck is no different than Daniel Schorr, other than being alive, that is.

  12. Stephen
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Texas Governor Rick Perry was on the Daily Show last night and the subject of insuring the poor came up, in a round about way. You can watch it about halfway through the third video on this page.

    http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/11/rick-perry-denies-being-a-secessionist-on-the-daily-show-video.php

    The exchange takes place after Perry brags about all the companies moving across the boarder from California to Texas, due to their tax structure. He makes a crack about them sending all their sick to California and getting back all their companies in return. It’s absolutely nauseating.

  13. Andy C
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Hell watch the full episode and see Jon’s response to the Rally critics too.

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/mon-november-8-2010-rick-perry

  14. Mr. X
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    Stewart went after Olbermann, Anderson Cooper and any number of other people at the rally, lumping them in with the talking heads of Fox. His point was pretty clear – everyone, regardless of what end of the spectrum, is guilty of pumping up the volume and using scare tactics.

  15. Andy C
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Do I have to post a link to the ACTUAL rally now too?????

    They gave Anderson Cooper’s tight black t-shirt the fear award. Since he wears when covering disasters. If you see him in it in front of your house, you better be scared because something bad happen. It’s funny dumb fuck!

    Heads out of your fat asses.

  16. Mr. X
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Stewart addressed the criticism.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/jon-stewart-responds-to-t_n_780792.html

    But he did so without, in my opinion, addressing the content of the criticism. He did, at the rally, talk about both sides and he did draw a fake equivalence between the two. As he’s trying to remain somewhat impartial, I totally get why he did it. It makes sense, and it’s a valid point on some level. I’m just pointing out that, on another level, it falls short. It’s not his job, though, to fix the country. The rally was great for what it was. It’s what I expected. I think, however, that some were expecting more, like marching orders on how to take these lying assholes down.

  17. Tommy
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    The passion for change was lost after Vietnam ended. That was the last time that people, en masse, felt as though their actions could and would make a difference. I don’t blame the boomers as a group (born 1945 – 65 approximately) being the problem. Those who came of age (turned 18 from 1980 and beyond) are the real culprits. I am in that group and it disgusts me to listen to people who are of a similar age open their mouths sometimes. From compassion, to fairness, to empathy, to collective prosperity – we as a group have none. The point – if i don’t benefit i don’t care – prevails. it saddens me

  18. Glen S.
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    One of the things that makes me the most crazy about the whole phenomenon of anti-government, anti-tax hysteria is how, especially this election cycle, there seems to be no way to escape it.

    On a local level, in the recent election straight-ticket voters in the City of Ypsilanti voted Democratic (84%) over Republican (16%); and overall, chose Bernero (74%) over Snyder (26%), and Dingell (81%) over Steele (19%). At the same time, we wholeheartedly supported public transit (72%) — and voted in favor of libraries and preserving natural spaces by similar large margins. In effect, we said “Yes” we want to preserve vital public services and programs, and “Yes,” we are willing to pay for them.

    Meanwhile … all across Michigan, and around the nation, many voters were sending a different message, namely, as the title of this thread implies: “Eliminate every program that doesn’t benefit me personally.”

    The irony, of course, is this: While we were busy voting “Yes” to preserve AATA service in Ypsilanti — voters all around the state and nation were voting for candidates who will (in all likelihood) support cuts in state and federal funding for public transit. And, while we were busy voting “Yes” to protect vital programs in services — voters all across Michigan were voting for candidates who will (in all likelihood) continue to slash revenue-sharing for cities like Ypsilanti.

    The list goes on and on but my point is that, despite the best of intentions as a community, when the post-election maps are drawn, communities like Ypsilanti that do the “right” thing seem to end up being just little spots of blue in large, and growing, (and angry) sea of red.

  19. Oliva
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Glen S., it would be fine to see your post in a newspaper too (letter to the editor), with a few tweaks (“title of this thread”).

    Re. the boomer thing. I know the years shift, but last heard I’m at the tail end, and I don’t think I’m so much like what a few people here described–and I know a lot of very engaged boomers who care deeply about the country and remain sturdily true to their liberal politics. I have a dear friend smack dab in the middle of boomer-ville, and she is one of the hardest-working activists for left-wing causes that I know, super-passionate and determined, works her butt off for her community and country. I think there are plenty of screwed-up people of many ages and many outstanding ones too. When you look at boomers as a general group, there are disturbing elements–intellectual laziness from people who were handed excellent educations, among other things–just as there are across other generations. But when you start looking at stellar individuals, it’s not so surprising that some of them happen to be boomers.

    (Btw, I have a theory that people born in 1963, like one of my sisters, are particularly gifted and emotionally sound. They say that children who are hugged and touched a lot tend to be more emotionally healthy and resilient. So, the theory goes, many people born in 1963 were held a lot by their mothers following JFK’s death–so there was the sadness but also the being held a lot. One of these days I’ll check to see if there was a similar effect following Pearl Harbor and in time can see about 9/11. It is a very wobbly based theory but a theory nonetheless. Anyone else know exceptional people born in 1963? They would not be boomers, right?)

  20. Posted November 9, 2010 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    Oliva, my understanding was that Gen X was from 1965-1979. I always remembered that b/c I was born in 1972, smack dab in the middle.

    I like your theory!! And certainly, I personally didn’t mean to imply that all boomers are selfish, any more than all X’ers are slackers (although I kind of am :)). But as an X’er, I just get so sick of hearing how boomers “changed the world” and were so cool with their sex/drugs/rock’n’roll. Yeah thanx, we got stuck with AIDS, crack, hair bands. Damn straight I’m bitter!

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